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BUSINESS LEADERS PLAN LONDON MANIFESTO

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Senior business leaders are to lobby political parties to ensure the new mayor and authority for London will pursue...
Senior business leaders are to lobby political parties to ensure the new mayor and authority for London will pursue pro-enterprise policies, reported Sunday Business (p2). London First, the capital's inward investment agency, is to set up a taskforce of 10 top executives to draw up a business manifesto for London.

The city's business community is concerned about the power the mayor and authority will wield and the possible effects on the capital's status as Europe's pre-eminent financial centre. London First chief executive Stephen O'Brien said: 'The Greater London Authority's

policies on transport, planning and economic development will have a major impact on the ability of businesses to deliver for their employees, suppliers, shareholders and customers. The views of the business community must inform its policy-making process'.

Labour has shared these concerns, but Tony Blair has been unable to persuade a top business figure to stand as the party's candidate for mayor. Various business people have been mooted as candidates including British Airways' Bob Ayling, Richard Branson and the

current Lord Mayor of London, Lord Levene, but none has expressed real interest. The election of a maverick left-winger, such as Ken Livingstone, as mayor is viewed with a degree of dread by both the City and Mr Blair.

NEW MAYOR 'MUST BOOST JOBS'

London needs to win back manufacturing industry, according to a report to be presented to government by senior businessmen, including Psion chairman David Potter and British Airways chairman Lord Marshall, reported Sunday Business (p2). The want the new London mayor to reverse the policy of promoting manufacturing in the provinces.

'It's time to redress the balance', said Mr Potter. He blames central government for deliberately pyushing manufacturing into the regions when traditional industries such as coal and shipbuilding were closing in the 1980s. 'unemployment in London then was tiny. But over

recent years unemployment in London has been higher than elsewhere and there are real social problems in London', said Mr Potter.

He admits the policy will put the capital in conflict with cities such as Sheffield, but says bluntly: 'We have to tell Sheffield the truth. The perception is that London has got wealth: we have to tell them otherwise'.

The report, prepared for the CBI and London Chamber for Commerce & Industry, argues that London cannot be solely a serviceeconomy. 'We must stop converting business sites into Tescos and residential use', said Mr Potter.

Trade minister Lord Sainsbury welsomed the report, saying: 'It reflects the importance of manufacturing for London's economy and also hughlights major issues to be addressed'.

Lord Marshall, deputy president of the CBI, called for training in the capital to be tailored to manufacturing. 'This is an area where the mayor's economic policies need to help', he said.

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